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Hearts and Minds

“So we must be ready to fight in Vietnam," President Lyndon Johnson famously announced, "but the ultimate victory will depend upon the hearts and the minds of the people who actually live there.” As a Vietnam-era veteran, I can tell you he was wrong. We bombed the crap out of the Vietnamese communists and we didn’t change their minds. Just because we didn't agree with their political views, we didn't change the fact it was their country and their civil war. 

           My point being that I learned through experience that you can’t always change people’s basic beliefs or their lifestyle choices. Sometimes you can get them to change their behaviors through some form of incentive or disincentive, but enlightenment rarely works.

            Cultural change in an organization usually occurs through the process of replacing people who won’t change with people who don’t need to because they already get the point. If you are having a problem with a small unit, then you may need to replace one or two people. If the problem is organizational, then it will take much longer and a lot more people.

            I realize that this sounds very callous. However, there is no point in keeping people in an organization who aren’t happy with its changing mission or its changing culture. In the end, they will be happier finding an organizational fit better suited to their belief system.

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